|The Library was established in 1931, the year in which the Museum was donated and inaugurated. It has to date gathered more than 100,000 titles of books and periodicals, the content of which is related to the material in the Museum collections and covers the following topics: Greek history and art, folklore, intellectual life and religion, particularly during the period of Turkish rule and modern times. It also has noteworthy collections of books about Islamic art and the art of the Far East.
The valuable collections in the Library cover the following topics: Greek history and art from antiquity to the twentieth century, folklore, intellectual life and religion, particularly during the period of Turkish rule and modern times. These include a group of Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts (Benaki Museum collection, collection of Damianos Kyriazis and the Exchangeable Populations Fund collection) dating from the 10th to the 19th century, a section on travellers’ texts and a large section containing archetypes, monumental, old and rare editions, valuable folios and illustrated volumes, as well as rare and unique copies of books from the 15th to the 19th century. It also has noteworthy collections of books about Islamic art and the art of the Far East.
Nature and structure
The Library is the largest collection of books operating in a Museum in Greece. It is not a lending library, but remains open to the public for study on the premises, with the capability to supply photocopies, microfilm, photographs and digital printouts.
Today the Library constitutes a central agency with branches, given that each Department now uses its own collection of books for its better operation. Such branches have been created at the N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery (7500 volumes), in the Toys and Childhood Department (6,000 volumes), in the Historical Archives (10,000 volumes), in the Neohellenic Architecture Archives (4,500 volumes), in the Photographic Archives (6,000 volumes) and in “FILIPPOS ELIOU” Bibliology Workshop (7,500 volumes).
The Library has an online computerised catalogue, but continues to keep the old index-card catalogue up-to-date. The Library takes part in conferences and day congresses, lends material to exhibitions, both in Greece and overseas, organises tours and lectures, issues catalogues and publishes articles in journals.